2023-01-25 00:47:42

Supreme Court collegium: The growing row over picking judges in India

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By Soutik Biswas

India correspondent

Should judges pick judges?

For long judges in India's top courts have been selected by their colleagues through a mechanism called the collegium system. Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president after consultation with fellow judges. (The law minister puts up the justices' recommendations to the prime minister, who advises the president to appoint them.)

The government believes this system needs radical reform. In recent weeks, a number of senior functionaries, including the law minister and the vice-president, have spoken out against the collegium. "Across the globe judges do not appoint judges. But in India, they do," said Law Minister Kiren Rijiju. He called the collegium system "opaque and not accountable".

  • The crisis facing India's Supreme Court

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government tried to change this through a new law that gave it more say in appointing judges. It would have replaced the decades-old collegium system with a federal commission that would include the law minister. The Supreme Court struck down the law, saying it was "unconstitutional". The judiciary could only safeguard the rights of the citizens "by keeping it absolutely insulated and independent from the other organs of the government", asserted one of the justices while delivering the verdict.

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